Love Letter To A Record: Fairgrounds Festival Edition

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this special Fairgrounds Festival edition of our Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists playing the beloved festival to share stories about the effect music has had on their worlds.

Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.

Rusty Hopkinson, You Am I: Various Artists – ‘Chocolate Soup For Diabetics’

Back in the primordial soup of the early eighties, I was a teenage troglodyte trying to play in as many hard-core punk bands as I could. Of course, being a bolshy little shit, I thought I knew all I needed to know about rock and roll until late one night my friend Mullet (in case you’re wondering his haircut was four mohawks) placed this wonderful platter on the three-in-one in the lounge room of our squat and blew open my world.

Chocolate Soup For Diabetics is a bootleg collection of obscure, mostly British, “Freak-Beat” records. A diverse array of 45s made by an army of pill chomping mods in the mid-sixties as they’re engulfed by the lysergic tsunami of the oncoming psychedelic age. The sound is wild, uptight and punk as all hell but with a daisy chain necklace, facepaint and a joint in its hand. This compilation was my first entree to the world of the sixties underground; the legion of bands who punched away several rungs below the likes of your Stones, Yardbirds and ‘orrible Oo and I LOVED what I heard.

Bands who I’d never heard of like The Flies with their neanderthal fuzz-punk rendition of ‘Steppin’ Stone’, The Misunderstood’s brain-crunching ‘Children of The Sun’ and the pure acid psychosis of ‘Madman Running Through The Field’ by Dantalion’s Chariot, all of them a step beyond what I thought “sixties rock” was. Every track’s a killer and it’s an album I still listen to a lot.

As a kid, I devoured all the rock history books but nobody had ever mentioned these wild, untamed bands previously only found on obscure 45s and that really blew my tiny teenaged mind. This brilliant compilation opened up the record-collector-nerd door for me and I’m happy to say I own more than a couple of the original singles now. It’s the first record that made me look towards the stuff they don’t tell you about in official music history books (no matter what genre) because sometimes that’s where the wildest kicks are.

BTW – I pretty much stole pretty much every drum fill I do from this record, as well.

Donny Benet: Tonetta – ‘777’

I first stumbled upon Tonetta purely by accident. It was in the glory days of music blogs and I stumbled upon a trashy article describing artists weirder than Lady Gaga when she first hit the scene.

It was all pretty pathetic until they’d posted a very early Tonetta clip – it might have been either ‘My Bro’ or ‘Metal Man’. The clips were amazing and I must have watched all of them consecutively. At that point in time, it was the early days of Donny shows and I was heavily influenced by Alan Vega, Ariel Pink and John Maus. Tonetta was on a completely different level. Tonetta gave me further confidence in inhibiting the DIY lo-fi zone.

Tonetta’s recording and production palette is extremely limited, lending itself to a hypnotic and uncompromising sound. The same drum machine pattern, guitar playing and basslines echo throughout each sound, only differentiated by the bold and emotional song topics explored by a bitter divorced 40-year-old man living in his mother’s basement.

Personal favourites include ‘My Bro’, ‘Believe Me People’, ‘Red, White and Blue’, and ‘A Really Big Cock’.

A true classic.


Holly Throsby: Life Without Buildings – ‘Any Other City’

This is such a timeless record, and one I always come back to and feel the same excitement as when I first heard it.

Life Without Buildings were fronted by Sue Tompkins, a painter. I think all the members met at art school in Glasgow. The thing I love about this album is that it feels so free. Tompkins’ vocals are like performance poetry – loose and improvised – and the bass lines are amazing. One word becomes another word, and the music is very fluid. It inspires me to think and write freely.

You can hear fellow Fairgrounds artists Gang of Youths’ David Le’aupepe and Marlon Williams talk about records that changed their lives at the 2017 Fairgrounds’ Festival Record Club, held over two intimate, RSVP-only sessions. More info here.

Fairgrounds Festival 2017 Lineup

(In Alphabetical Order)

Adam Gibson & The Ark-Ark Birds

Aldous Harding

Client Liaison

D.D Dumbo


Donny Benét

Future Islands

Gang Of Youths

Georgia Mulligan

Hockey Dad

Holly Throsby

Japanese Breakfast

Jen Cloher

Jess Locke

Leah Senior

Marlon Williams


Press Club

The Shins

Shogun (Royal Headache)

Spiral Stairs (Pavement)

Stella Donnelly

The Teskey Brothers

You Am I

Fairgrounds Festival 2017

Friday, 8th — Saturday, 9th December

Berry Showgrounds, Berry

Tickets: Official Website

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